The Australian Ballet

Women inspiring women

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Sharni Spencer and artists of TAB

Photo Kate Longley

Who inspires you? We ask some of the wonderful women at The Australian Ballet who they look up to this International Women's Day.

At The Australian Ballet we’re committed to creating an inclusive and equal environment all year round. This international Women’s Day we wanted to celebrate the many wonderful woman who make the magic of ballet happen. From guest Costume Designer and Taungurung woman Annette Sax, Composer and Soprano Deborah Cheetham Fraillon AO and our new Executive Director Lissa Twomey, to the talented artists who take to the stage to bring the vision and dedication of all who came before, we discover who inspires our extraordinary team of artists and creatives.

Who are some of the women that inspire you?

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Deborah Cheetham, Nick Hays and Daniel Riley

Photo Jonathan van der Knaap

Deborah Cheetham Fraillon AO – Composer, The HUM

I am constantly inspired by the women who were the first in their field.

Contralto Marion Anderson the first African American to sing at the MET (1955)

My wife - Nicolette Fraillon AM the first female Chief Conductor and Musical Director of a Ballet Company anywhere in the world.

Linda Burney and Malarndirri McCarthy - the first Indigenous women to be elected to both a state/territory parliament and the Federal Parliament.

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Jill Ogai

Photo Daniel Boud

Jill Ogai – Senior Artist

There are so many. I have to say they all share common qualities in that they are all forces of nature and have carved their own paths. They are women that have a balance of feminine intuition and masculine determination. To name a few, Serena Williams, Sylvie Guillem, Pam Tanowitz, Cathy Freeman and of course, my mum.

I could keep talking about inspiring women, but I’ll finish with a quote from Martha Graham. “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy....that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.”


Annette Sax

Photo Unknown

Annette Sax - Costume Designer, The HUM

I’ve been really blessed to be surrounded and supported by Sista's, Taungurung women Aunty Bernadette Franklin, Leanne Callaghan and Gamiloroi woman Priscilla Reid-Loynes. We came together for my 50th and held a ceremony in the space close to where our Taungurung women’s story comes from, nearby Wa-ring (Goulburn River).

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Lissa Twomey

Photo Simon Eeles

Lissa Twomey - Executive Director

For more than a century people around the world have been celebrating International Women’s Day and recognising the achievements of inspirational women all over the world. We look to women from all walks of life, who have made a positive difference in the world and achieved things that most of us could only dream of. I need to look no further than our studios and offices, where each day I marvel at the incredibly talented, strong women who balance their careers whilst giving and caring for their loved ones. I marvel at those who combine raising a family whilst maintaining the discipline and physical demands of the life of a touring ballerina. You are an inspiration, what you do touches the hearts and gives joy to so many. Hats off to you!

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Sharni Spencer, Romeo and Juliet, 2022

Photo Jeff Busby

Sharni Spencer - Principal Artist

Some of the women who inspire me are, my mother, for her positivity and determination, my sister for her beautiful spirit and generosity, my grandmother who had such strength and courage, and my mother-in-law who is so kind and thoughtful. I am also incredibly lucky to be inspired each and every day by the many beautiful ballerinas of The Australian Ballet!